Open the Gates

The time between the First Day of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur has particular spiritual weight. Indeed, while we’ve been engaging in the process of teshuvah throughout the month of Elul, it’s this week and a half that are known as the Ten Days of Teshuvah, a period where we have the chance to dig harder and go deeper into the spiritual work of the season while the gates are open. Join us as we explore the depth of these days in spiritual preparation for Yom Kippur.

Jeannie Blaustein

Jeannie Blaustein: Taking Stock and Taking Action

Jeannie Blaustein, PhD., D. Ministry, former president of the BJ board, is a clinical psychologist, pastoral counselor, and professor of psychology. The founding board chair of Reimagine End of Life, Jeannie is dedicated to bringing about public and private conversations on death, dying, and disparities in how we die in America that transform our relationship to life and to each other.

Nizahker Venikatev

Nizakher Venikatev: A Reflective Guide for the Ten Days of Teshuvah

The medieval sage Maimonides once said of these ten days, “Even though repentance and crying out to God are always timely, during the ten days from Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur it is exceedingly appropriate and accepted immediately.” What about this period makes reaching out to God more appropriate? Explore this question and more as we uncover the deeper meanings of the Ten Days of Teshuvah.

Martha Ackelsberg and Mike Lenox

Martha Ackelsberg and Mike Lennox: Opening the Gates of Understanding

Listen to a conversation between BJ member Martha Ackelsberg and Mike Lennox, a corrections officer and member of the Michigan Corrections Organization, discussing the “Bridging the Gap” exchange in which they participated a couple of years ago. They talk about their fears and nervousness before meeting each other, how their conversations revealed both areas of common ground and many misconceptions, and how they ended up surprised by the warmth they felt, and still feel, for people with whom they disagree. (The day after this conversation was recorded, Mike was seriously injured at work, when one of the incarcerated men stabbed him three times, puncturing his ear drum. We send him wishes for a refu’ah shleimah, a speedy and full recovery.)

Breaking down the Yamim Nora'im

Breaking Down the Ten Days of Teshuvah

This period gives us the opportunity to dig harder and go deeper into the spiritual work of the season while the gates are open. To better understand what the Ten Days of Teshuvah really mean, read this breakdown.

Rachel Cowan

Rabbi Rachel Cowan z”l: The Enoughness of My Life

Rabbi Rachel Cowan was a civil rights activist, community organizer, the first female Jew by choice ordained as a rabbi, and a beloved and influential mindfulness teacher. After she was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, Rabbi Cowan’s life and legacy were profiled in the documentary Dying Doesn’t Feel Like What I’m Doing, which premiered this year.

Rabbi David Silber

Rabbi David Silber: The Prayers of Yom Kippur

Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav famously said that the goal of studying Torah is to transform our study into prayer. The ancient liturgical poets, however, strove to make our prayers into a form of Torah study by interlacing the blessings with liturgical poems (piyyutim) that recount biblical narratives. How do the piyyutim of Yom Kippur reflect the essential nature of the day? How can these poems help us arrive at a deeper understanding of ourselves?